On Saturday night the chilling breeze from Friday continued and meant there were less people around than usual. That being said, it was extremely exciting to see twelve team members out, many of whom are relatively new, still wanting to declare the gospel of our God and King! It was a night filled with team work in gospel proclamation and many wonderful conversations.
On a more sober note, the first two conversations were with three men. They were Buddhist and spiritual and desperately didn't want to believe that God existed nor that He would hold humanity accountable for their actions. The reason turned out to very simple, exactly as Paul described almost two millennia ago in Romans 1:20-23. These men wanted to live their own way and in their rebellion against God, to avoid feeling guilty and to justify their actions had rejected what they knew about God, in place of their love of sin.
Sadly these men remained adamant that there was no real problem and therefore they never had the chance to hear the solution.
This was followed by an absolutely wonderful conversation with Noah. Noah excitedly ran across the road and said, "I am starting high school at a Church school next year and I need a Bible". His father, not too far behind affirmed that this is true. Noah was then asked if he knew if he would go to Heaven or Hell after he died. He said, "I am pretty sure Heaven, I am a pretty good guy". Although he had the pride of assuming he was good, in great contrast to the foolishness of the adults he then very humbly listened and engaged in a very simple gospel presentation.
He was shown God's law that our lies, theft, anger and disobedience to our parents mean that we deserve Hell. At this information Noah was moved and visibly upset but then was asked what he could do to solve this. He as usual suggested his goodness would help but was shown that would not work and said it made sense. Then he was shown the simple and beautiful message of God's totally undeserved love for sinners and with a few questions Noah was able to understand and explain the simple message of Christianity.
With his young age came the humility to listen. With this also came the acknowledgement that he was guilty, without any need to pretend that he wasn't but it also came with curiosity and Noah was able to explain, after less than five minutes of conversation that the one condition to be forgiven is to trust that Jesus has paid for our sin and the reason a Christian desires to honour God with their live is out of thankfulness to Him for what He has done.
Noah was encouraged to begin reading the gospel of John he was given and to consider trusting in Christ this day!
There were other exciting conversation in the evening, both Amir and Jack also came to understand the simple message of salvation and were challenged this day to count the cost of following Christ. Please be praying for all those who heard the God would use these conversations to draw His people unto Himself!
On Friday evening on the Gold Coast the wind had picked up greatly. Whilst it was warmer than it had been for the past weeks the breeze seemed to be keeping everyone inside and as a result it was harder to get into conversations as people were dashing between buildings, not as keen to talk.
This didn't stop the gospel from going out, it just meant it was a little harder to be able start conversations.
An early chat took place with a European guy, whilst his friend was talking to another team member. Sadly this conversation didn't last very long because he didn't like being guilty and therefore just tried to distract from God's law. He saw his sin but was not wanting to hear of a solution, preferred to be in denial about guilt. It was a sad conversation and he was challenged to reconsider and warned that he could face judgement at any moment.
This was followed by a very similar conversation with a young Kiwi couple, Don and Ibrahim (a Muslim). They each rejected the gospel without fully hearing or understanding it because they preferred to think their own way, that their goodness would be enough for them to enter Heaven. They were each warned and challenged with the seriousness of this decision and left with tracts.
One exciting conversation took place with Nazal and Lana two young ladies who came to hear and understand the gospel message at the end of the conversation they said today that would trust in Christ and were challenged to not make this decision lightly but that they should count the cost of trusting in Christ. They both took gospels of John and tracts and were encouraged to read what God had said.
About an hour later in the evening they walked past again and still remembered, without any prompting the way to Heaven! It was encouraging to see.
Please be praying for those who heard of their guilt and of the way to Heaven that God will use whatever it takes to draw people unto Himself. Please be praying for the initial rejectors, who were in denial about their guilt that God would cause them to remember their guilt over and over and cause them to seek out how a sinner can be forgiven.
As forecast, Saturday saw constant and heavy rain in Christchurch (NZ), so I decided to letterbox drop tracts instead of heading into Cathedral Square.
I ended up placing a tract into a letterbox (pictured) that used to belong to a friend, Russell Crawly. Sadly, he passed away three years ago - after a sudden and short fight with cancer. I had shared the Gospel with him a number of times - one of those times was just after I had learned about using the law before the Gospel. I distinctly remember it having an impact on him. But, as far as I know, he went to the grave rejecting the Gospel. I attempted to share the Gospel with him a final time, on his deathbed, and his response was to roll his eyes. How horrible and devastating is death! How surely it will come. How suddenly it can come! And how wonderful is the good news of the Gospel: hope & grace - for those that place their trust in Jesus.
I’ve got no control over who responds to the Gospel. But people can only respond to a message they have heard. This is motivation for me to continue sharing it (and I’m so grateful to those that are supporting me to do that). Maybe the new owner of the house will read the tract and respond with a repentant faith in Christ - accepting the gift of God? Please be encouraged to keep sharing the Gospel with those that you can! Death is sure; there is only hope in the Gospel of Jesus!
Sunday was overcast, but there was no rain. To my surprise, there were no market stalls in Cathedral Square, so I could set up my flip chart right in front of the Cathedral. Instantly I had a young couple interested, and I was able to share the law and Gospel with them both. I then went straight into a conversation with a man who had received a tract from me before. It turns out we agreed on a lot, he even had a fairly good definition of what repentance was! But he still believed that works were required for salvation. Sadly, he was now listening to Hare Krishna teachings and was resistant to listening to me. I decided not to fight, and spent the rest of the conversation listening to him until he left.
I ended the outreach by open air preaching to the people walking past. A few would stop to listen for a few moments, before drifting off. There was a man sitting in the distance on the other side of the Square, he soon came over and leaned against the statue in front of speakers corner. It turns out he is a Christian who had recently been watching Ray Comfort on YouTube and had plucked up enough courage to come to the Square a number of times. He was very encouraged to meet me, and asked for some tracts to hand out while I finished preaching. It was just at this time that Mr. Angry came past (I haven’t seen him for weeks). And my new friend offered him a tract… and got an earful from him. A nice way to get started! :) But he survived.
After I had finished preaching, I spent some time getting to know this guy. He is keen to buy some tracts, and to start joining in with outreach. Maybe next Saturday?
Very grateful to God for this encouragement, may more labourers be raised up! Keep praying! :)
On Thursday in Sunnybank the team had a wonderful outreach! The team of six made it out and spread around to see who would be willing to talk about the after life and would be willing to hear what Christ has done to save sinners.
The first conversation was with a man named Jason, he said he was a Christian and that asking for forgiveness would be getting him into Heaven. He came to understand the simple message of faith alone and said that today he would begin to trust in Christ. The reason he said this is, once he understood the gospel he was asked if he could see the difference between what he was saying at the beginning of the conversation and what Christ had actually said. He saw the difference and said he would read Romans 3-5 this week.
The next conversation was also with Jason. He had spoken to the team last week and had gotten to hearing the gospel but the chat had been cut short by the arrival of the bus. This week it was picked up where it had left off and came to hear that trusting in Christ alone is the way to Heaven. He was able to explain that back and then asked, "Doesn't that encourage people to do the bad things?"
This will have to be left till next week to answer though, as again his bus arrived.
There were a range of other exciting conversations but one good one was with a young couple who had some ideas about Christ but weren't sure of the way to Heaven. At the end of the conversation when their bus arrived, the young guy was able to explain the way to Heaven but the girl was still trying to squeeze her own goodness into the requirements to enter Heaven.
They both took tracts and were encouraged to read Romans 3-5 together to see what the apostle Paul says about how one is made right before God.
Please be praying for those who heard the good news today that God would work on their hearts, causing them to hate sin and trust in Christ!
On Wednesday afternoon in Brisbane city, it was a team of four over the course of the afternoon. This was okay though as the showers of rain meant conversations were limited to areas under cover.
The first conversation was with a man named Hayden who was recovering from a recent surgery. He was asked if he thought he'd go to Heaven or Hell and at first said Heaven. He was shown God's law and justice and realised that was not the case. After this he was asked what the solution is and simply said, "I don't know, you tell me!" He then came to understand the simple message of hope and was encouraged this day to trust in Christ. He said he had a Bible at home and was encouraged to have a read of it.
Funnily enough the next two guys spoken to were named Hayden and Damo. At first they were putting forward ideas about aliens and other sources for this universe, which was simply dismissed by pointing out that aliens could not have created this universe because they are inside it. Even if there were aliens, they too would have to be created. They were then pointed to God and His creative power and were shown that God is the one who sets the rules for this universe.
Damo was very honest but adamant, that He doesn't want anyone else to tell him how to live, he would prefer to take his chances in rebellion against God, than to obey God. The pair were shown the depths of their sinfulness and the punishment that was coming. They were warned at how serious it is but they were defiant. It was pointed out a few times that this defiance is foolish when put in perspective who they are rebelling against but in the end they received the phone call they were waiting for and had to head off, without getting chance to hear the offer of hope for sinners.
Another conversation was with Sam, who has chatted to the team a number of times and now has a decent grasp on the gospel. The issue, Sam likes sin more than he loves God. He would prefer to enjoy the freedom of rebellion and the punishment it brings, than to trust in God and as a result obey Him. It was sad that he continues to hold onto the fleeting pleasures of sin at the expense of his eternity.
In more exciting news, there is a man named Stephan who the team has spoken to continuously over the past years. Usually he has run into the team at Capalaba but recently he has been seeing us in Brisbane City. For years and years he has been unable to understand the gospel but around a month ago he came to grasp it for the first time! On Wednesday his comprehension was checked to see if he could remember and he still could understand that one must believe that Jesus has paid for their sin if they are to enter Heaven. On the sadder side, Stephan still hasn't trusted in Christ yet.
He has been encouraged to, week after week over the past month as the team has seen him but as of yet he is still trying to be good enough for God. Praise God that he now knows the way of salvation but please be praying that God would draw Stephan to Himself. That he would come to hate sin and love Christ!
There were more conversations over the course of the afternoon but sadly with people who couldn't grasp the simple message of the gospel. They continually tried to complicate what God had made plain. Please be praying for those who heard that God would use this conversation to draw them to Himself!
On Tuesday afternoon in Woodridge the team again was made up people who just recently had started coming out and were keen to be out sharing the gospel with the time God had given them. That is the beauty of some professions, there is simply time off between jobs! If you work in a profession like that, why not head on out sometime?
The first conversation of the afternoon was with Wakka a young man who was stopped by simply asking the question, "What do you think happens after we die?" Over the course of a conversation he came to see the desperate position that he is in, before God he is guilty and deserves Hell. He then saw what Christ has done to save Hell-deserving sinners and was able to explain it back when asked. In the end he took a gospel tract and a gospel of John. It was an exciting beginning to the afternoon and encouraging to see.
A worrying conversation was with a lady named Lucinda. She had some ideas about God and had some Christian language down but seemed to have little to no comprehension of how someone actually is made right before God. What was more worrying was that her daughter had even less understanding. The reason for this it seemed was that they had stopped attending Church months ago and had just not bothered to look for a new one. This lady ended up being quite dismissive because she said she already knows she is going to Heaven because she deserves it.
There was also conversations with Mike, Lian, Alyse, Eto and Joan all of whom over the course of a conversation were able to grasp the simplicity of the gospel message and were correctly able to answer the questions, "How does someone who deserves Hell get to Heaven? and Why does someone who has trusted in Jesus to pay for their sin obey God?" It was encouraging to see so many people over the course of the afternoon come to grasp the simple gospel.
What was sad in some instances but exciting in others was the response when these people were asked, "When will you starting trusting only in what Jesus has done to make you right before God?" Some responded about how this very day they wanted to trust in Christ or that they will think about it and have a read of John's gospel but others even after receiving the information were unfazed by it and said they just wanted to keep living their own way. In the end it is God who saves so please keep these men and women in your prayers, requesting that God would draw them unto Himself!
The final conversation of the afternoon was with Lloyd. He was stopped quickly before he headed to his train and was shown the simple gospel message. What was so exciting was as he came to understand it and was able to explain it back he said, "I am so glad that I stopped and chatted to you today, I have been wondering for ages how it works!" What a wonderful testimony from a man who now understands the simple message of salvation.
May God continue to work in the hearts and lives of those who heard today and they may be drawn unto Him!
It is not often the reports are put up for the evening outreaches but Monday night was so joyfully filled with conversations that it is hard not to share.
The first conversation was with Eddie. He had a Christian-ish background and as a result had a warped understanding of justification. He kept thinking that people are made right before God on the basis of their goodness. Meaning entrance into Heaven is entirely dependent upon how one has lived. He came to see that if that was the standard no one would enter Heaven and in fact every single one of us deserves Hell and after a thirty minute discussion Eddie for the first time in his entire life was able to comprehend and articulate that the one condition to be right before God is the trust that Jesus paid for his sin on the cross and the reason that those who have trusted in Jesus will want to obey Him is out of thankfulness to God for what He has done.
Eddie was left to consider his response to this message, knowing that seriousness of either decision.
Next Gerald was chatted with. Last night some of the team had tried to chat but ended up leaving very quickly because of the language barrier. Tonight, over the course of around forty-five minutes, with the help of Gerald friend and translator Thomas, after nine cycles through the gospel, Gerald finally got it! Gerald and Thomas are from France, so their only real exposure to the Bible and what it says is found in the Catholic church and its traditions. This meant that they had to unlearn before they could learn.
But with some patience, despite a number of times considering giving up, after the conversation at length Gerald with a big smile on his face came to realise the difference between what he had believe and what Christ proclaims. He was asked, "At the beginning what were you saying the way to Heaven is?" to which he responded, "Stop doing the wrong thing, repent (by which he meant ask for forgiveness and regret what you've done), pray and ... many other things".
Then he was asked, "After this conversation, what is the way to Heaven, "Believe that Jesus paid for my sin on the cross". It was a long slog but at the end it was totally worth it. He too took a gospel of John and was encouraged to start reading it.
Then came Felipe, a Colombian man who similarly had Catholic heritage. Over a twenty minute conversation, despite a slight language barrier Felipe got it. He was quicker to understand than the other two and was so thankful for the conversation. He said at the end of it, he was going to have to consider it tonight!
The last conversation of the evening was Steve. He is an early sixties Australian man who was on his way home from the Casino. This was a most unusual conversation because most older gentlemen want nothing to do with any discussion about death but there seemed something on Steve's mind and it looked as if he actually wanted to talk about it. Steve had a few unusual struggles, he saw God's law and his guilt and actually thought that he was too bad to be saved. Thankfully he was dissuaded of that with a look at the awesomeness of Christ.
But then Steve got caught up on the fact that he wasn't sure he was able to stop doing all these wrong things in order to become a Christian. It took the majority of the conversation for him to understand that the changed life is a product of salvation not a prerequisite for it and it was exciting to see, when after being asked almost ten checking questions, to which he was unable to give the correct answer as to how someone is saved he finally, after another analogy, said, when asked, "How do you get to Heaven?", "Oh it's easy like you said, just trust that Jesus has paid for your sin on the cross".
From there the work was able to be done to show how his life will change and why it will change and to answer some of his other worries. Steve was left with the gospel in his head, the encouragement to dig out his Bible and read John's gospel and the serious decision before him, to trust in Christ alone for his salvation or to continue to reject Him.
Please be praying for those four, firstly thanking God for such a wonderful evening of outreach but secondly that these four men would remember the gospel and trust in Christ alone!
On Monday at Capalaba there were three team members out, surprisingly two of these were new to the Capalaba outreach, as other regulars weren't able to make it. It was exciting to see people taking the opportunity to come along simply because they had a chance. It is quite an interesting sight to see people who've only ever been to other locations come to see the differences at new locations. Capalaba is similar to roulette, most conversations are pretty straight forward, with people who are open, willing to listen and haven't really heard of Christ before but occasionally you get someone who is upset just because you wanted to ask them a question. The risk is worth it though because people's eternal salvation is more important than being treated respectfully.
There was an early conversation with a young lady named Mia. She said she had a Christian background and had grown up in the church but had left as she got older. She didn't have a specific reason for leaving but came to understand more about herself. Over the course of the conversation she saw her sinfulness and how her desire to live her own way had caused her to walk away from God. She came to realise that this way of living was the path to Hell and yet after comprehending God's offer of forgiveness, that can be received by faith in Christ, she remained adamant that at this point in her life she was going to continue living her own way. She was warned with the reality that she doesn't know if she will have another chance to consider it but Mia left, set on continuing to live as an enemy of the most powerful being in the universe.
There were then two conversations in a row with Amity and Jo, who both heard and came to understand the good news and were each encouraged to start reading John's gospel today!
There were quite a range of really exciting conversations but the highlight of the afternoon was with Justin. Justin had some slight understanding of the good news but struggled at first to understand it. After a quick recap though he came to understand why he deserves Hell and how he can get to Heaven and at the end of the conversation with great joy accepted a gospel of John and said he would read it. He professed a desire to trust in Christ this day and was challenged with the seriousness of the decision.
What a joy it is to be able to be there for the moment that someone comes to understand the simple message of salvation for the first time, and even better to be the one who God used to share it with them!
Why not come out some time?
On Saturday night in Brisbane City, once again the team assembled to share with those who would listen what God has done to save sinners.
The evening started with a conversation with a man who thought that he was already trusting in Jesus. Yet sadly he seemed blind to the fact that every time he was asked the way to Heaven he referred to himself and his own goodness. He ended up leaving quite quickly without comprehending that he was in desperate trouble.
This backed onto a conversation with a Muslim who was so blind to the truth. He was proclaiming things about Jesus that were factually and historically inaccurate and declared that in his life he had NEVER done anything willfully sinful. He was called out on his lies and shown the desperate position that he is in before God. He was told the story of the chief who as a man of his word took the punishment his son deserved and was shown how God acted in a similar way, except instead of taking the place of His son, He took the place of His enemies.
This man wanted nothing to do with Jesus and was self-assured in his own righteousness. It was a sad conversation as a blind man sprinted toward Hell, thinking he would be welcomed into Heaven.
Along came two PNG men, Gilbert and Fred who thought that they too were headed to Heaven. Except when asked what the way is they declared, "Trust in Jesus and obey Him". Over the next fifteen minutes, for the first time in their life they came to understand that the way to Heaven is simply to trust in Christ's death on the cross to pay for their sin and the obedience will result from gratefulness to God for what He has done.
They were both moved as they came to understand it and were so thankful for the conversation. After they had responded back, sharing the correct answer of how to get to Heaven, they were asked when they would starting trusting only in Jesus to pay for their sin and with smiles on their faces said, "today". They were encouraged to read Romans 3-5 to cement their new understanding. What a joy it is to see people come to know the good news for the first time!
A later conversation was with a man named Rafael who was Italian and saw the wickedness and hypocrisy of the Catholic church but sadly had used this as his excuse to reject God. He was shown that it was unwise to reject God and His offer of forgiveness on the basis of people who claim to represent Him. He came to see his sin and that he is heading for Hell but Rafael didn't want the gospel.
He preferred to saying, "I can't know if it is true", rather than dealing with himself as a sinner and coming to God on His terms.
Please be praying for those who heard the good news tonight, that God would be working in their hearts to draw them to Himself.
Thursday and Friday were busy days for the Christchurch (NZ) team. And I have to admit that I hit a brick wall on the Friday.
Andy & I held our regular Thursday afternoon outreaches to the Eastgate & Northlands bus stops. A highlight conversation was with a young high school student who became interested in a conversation when I asked him, as he walked past, if he ever thought about the afterlife. At one point he asked, “what about all the children that are suffering in the world”. It was a wonderful opportunity to explain about the patience of God in relation to justice - so that we who don’t deserve it can receive mercy! It also gave me an opportunity to touch on the subject of abortion - something in the forefront of people’s minds with legislation being considered in parliament, in regard to this, at the moment. I asked him what he was going to do about the children suffering from abortion. The arrow struck home, and I could see understanding in his eyes. I quickly moved back to explaining the Gospel. I could tell he was powerfully impacted. He said that he appreciated the simplicity of the message. He walked off reading the After Life tract I gave him (pictured).
On Friday morning, I watched some of the speeches given in parliament from the day before. I was grieved to the point of tears. I made it to the Gospel + abortion outreach, outside Christchurch Hospital, early. I was standing alone, holding a sign, that grief still with me. Security came to talk to me briefly before leaving me alone. Others in the team started to arrive, and we had a time of prayer, and I just couldn’t control my emotions and tears. Our prayers were deeply heartfelt. There was a team of seven. Andy spent most of the outreach having Gospel conversations with people. One guy came to tears in understanding of his sin and the grace of Jesus. Oh that hearts would be changed by the Gospel! And that this would lead to the ending of the horror of abortion (murder) in our nation. God have mercy!
The feeling of grief stayed with me through the afternoon of outreach in the City. I had that feeling of holding back tears constantly with me.
Andy and I preached in Cathedral Square (pictured) in spite of distractions (recorded Cathedral bells, loud music, a heckler).
We then moved to Cashel Mall where Binu and Roger joined us. But I had hit a brick wall, and had to really fight for the energy to try to engage people and get Gospel conversations started. Both Binu and Roger had a much better time than I did (see pictures). And Andy headed off to have walk up conversations. I did have one conversation, but I could barely articulate the Gospel.
In the late afternoon, I headed for the letterboxes to get some mental down time - and it helped! I went back into the city for an evening of outreach. Ravi joined me.
All glory to God, I ended up having two epic (long and wonderful) Gospel conversations! The first was with a lady and her son. Both with a Christian background, but she was self righteous, and he was agnostic. I was able to clearly explain the Gospel. She was challenged, he was inspired (his word). I pleaded with them to repent and trust Christ. The second was a very long conversation with a deep thinking young man - also with a Christian background. I spent a lot of time with him explaining how he knows God exists, and why there must be an afterlife (heaven or hell). I was then able to downshift from intellect to conscience and show him his sin via the law. And finally I was able to share the hope found only in Jesus. At the end, I also ended up sharing my testimony, as there was a connection between that and where he was at the moment. I suspect he had parents and grandparents praying for him - and I felt honoured to be able to be a third party bringing the Gospel to him!